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10 Jobs With Extraordinarily High Lifetime Earning Potential

Six figure jobs, four weeks paid vacation, unlimited use of the company car and an office with a view: We all want to reach the top floor with all its luxuries.

Careers are competitive; skill, planning and a little luck go a long way to attaining a career with high lifetime earnings. [TWEET]

Here is a list of dream jobs with an above average earning potential. Some start out in the lower salary range but boast more growth than any other career path. Just be forewarned, most of these jobs require more than six years invested in the classroom.

Orthopedic Surgeon

Doctors and lawyers represent some of the nation’s highest earners, and it’s no wonder they rack up the big bucks. With more than ten years of school and residency programs and more than 200 specialties, surgeons know how to make that dough. Orthopedic surgeons are one of the biggest earners in the medical profession. This is a sic figure job - they enter the field earning more than $250,000. Athletes and injury victims entrust surgeons to maintain their joints and bones, help build stronger muscular systems and repair injuries. Each NFL team has at least one orthopedic surgeon on staff.

Quick Facts:

  • Beginning Salary: $256,000

  • Median Salary: $333,000

  • Experienced Salary: $405,000

  • Education: Doctorate’s Degree

Anesthesiologist

Anesthesiologists are another physician with high earning potential on our list of dream jobs. These specialists rarely see patients outside a hospital setting. They administer anesthetics to patients during surgeries, monitor patients’ vital signs and adjust the dosage of pain medications. Physicians look to Anesthesiologists for recommendations regarding medications before and after surgery. These specialists also perform pre-certification and approvals for patients with high risk problems. They can also work outside of the operating room in in-hospital and pre-hospital emergencies, intensive care units, acute pain units and chronic pain consultations. Emergency rooms typically have at least one Anesthesiologist on-call at all times.

Quick Facts:

  • Beginning Salary: $142,000

  • Median Salary: $300,000

  • Experienced Salary: $450,000

  • Education: Doctorate’s Degree

Psychiatrist

Psychiatrists start out as one of the lowest paid medical specialists, with less than $100,000 going into their paycheck each year. However, they have the largest growth potential of our top ten list of dream jobs. Psychiatrists have the potential to earn more than triple their starting salary by retirement. One reason for the difference in growth is popularity. Patient’s need for mental health care has increased, and the rate of services have decreased. This causes many beginning specialists to seek jobs in nonprofit organizations and government agencies.

Quick Facts:

  • Beginning Salary: $75,000

  • Median Salary: $130,000

  • Experienced Salary: $219,000

  • Education: Doctorate’s Degree

Reservoir Engineer

Medical professions aren’t the only top earners and six figure jobs. The oil and gas industry demands its due as well. Reservoir Engineers specializing in the petroleum industry locate underground fossil fuels and run tests to determine if they are worth investing time and money to drill. Reservoir engineers are experts in geology, fluid mechanics and various technologies. The highest paid reservoir engineers specialize in drilling mechanics, reservoir rock properties or petroleum economics.

Quick Facts:

  • Beginning Salary: $80,000

  • Median Salary: $130,000

  • Experienced Salary: $193,000

  • Education: Bachelor’s Degree

Associate Partner, Consulting Services

Some careers are so versatile they have very little in the way of a job description. Associate Partners are consultants and co-owners/founders of their company. While the exact duties of a consulting services partner will vary by industry, most coordinate the management team in collecting and analyzing data for improved decision-making. Their goal is to look for ways to enhance an organization’s growth and efficiency, which also often means implementing new procedures and protocols. It’s a position where strategic thinking, business acumen and a comprehensive understanding of one’s given industry are a must.

Quick Facts:

  • Experienced Salary: $192,000

  • Education: Bachelor’s Degree

Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

Most nurses, unless they pick a sweet position for an athletic team or multi-million treatment facility, don’t represent the top earners, with one exception. Nurse Anesthetistwork closely with anesthesiologists and help doctors administer and dose medications within the operating room tend to be six figure jobs. They provide pre-surgery anesthesia and related care before entering the operating room and monitor the patient post-surgery in the recovery room. Nurse Anesthetists also provide pain management and some emergency services.

Quick Facts:

  • Beginning Salary: $85,000

  • Median Salary: $103,000

  • Experienced Salary: $160,000

  • Education: Doctorate’s Degree

Petroleum Engineer

Petroleum engineers represent natural resources’ top earners and six figure jobs. They work in the field, while other gas and oil workers handle jobs at home or the office. Petroleum engineers recommend the best locations for drilling derricks, test drilling samples and determine the safest methods to retrieve the oil or gas. Specialists also spearhead and coordinate building and operation of drills, oil derricks and other equipment used in the drilling process.

Quick Facts:

  • Beginning Salary: $100,000

  • Median Salary: $130,000

  • Experienced Salary: $157,000

  • Education: Bachelor’s Degree

Software Development Director

Silicon Valley didn’t win the innovation seat for being lazy. Information technology, infrastructure design and software creation marks the top careers for any nation. All industries rely on the skills and assets software development directors have. These computer specialists coordinate the software development process, starting with early coding stages through to the product’s final delivery. Each director works closely with software programmers and system analysts to ensure company objectives and project requirements are being met. Software development directors are also heavily involved in strategic decisions, planning processes and hiring decisions.

Quick Facts:

  • Beginning Salary: $100,000

  • Median Salary: $128,000

  • Experienced Salary: $155,000

  • Education: Bachelor’s Degree

Dentist

This career path started to degrade several years ago due to lack of insurance coverage among adults. Now that insurance is more affordable, dentists are seeing an increase in jobs and salaries. For many, dentistry is on their list of dream jobs. These medical professionals specialize in the mouth and teeth. Though most are not medical doctors (MD), they do have doctorate degrees, and some specialists and surgeons have a medical degree. Dentists use dental instruments, X-rays and other dental equipment to examine the teeth, gums and related tissues. Doctors treat diseases, infections and malformations of teeth, gums and related oral structures. Some perform cosmetic dental procedures to improve the appearance of a patient’s smile.

Quick Facts:

  • Beginning Salary: $120,000

  • Median Salary: $130,000

  • Experienced Salary: $154,000

  • Education: Doctorate’s Degree

Becoming a Top Earner

Becoming a top earner and having a six figure job doesn’t require a career change. It does require extra work. First you have to get noticed by upper management. Start volunteering for more responsibilities and learn to take more initiative. Be proactive and offer solutions to superiors. They are looking for those special team members who can give back to the company. Next, build up your skills and prove you have what it takes. Visit your local community college and take supplemental and certificate programs. Some colleges offer online career enhancement programs. Continue adding more notches on your belt, and, eventually, you’ll make your way to that corner office on the top floor.

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Write your resume like a pro.

TopResume's resume worksheet is just like the one our pros use. Download it now for free and start getting more interviews!

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Write your resume like a pro.

TopResume's resume worksheet is just like the one our pros use. Download it now for free and start getting more interviews!